This is our life, these are our lighted seasons, and then we die. . . . In the meantime, in between time, we can see. . . we can work at making sense of (what) we see. . . to discover where we so incontrovertibly are. It's common sense; when you-move in, you try to learn the neighborhood." Dillard's "neighborhood" is hilly Virginia country where she lived alone, but essentially it is all those "shreds of creation" with which every human is surrounded, which she is trying to learn, to know — from finite variations to infinite possibilities of being and meaning. A tall order and Dillard doesn't quite fill it. She is too impatient to get about the soul's adventures to stay long with an egg-laying grasshopper, or other bits of flora and fauna, and her snatches from physics and biological/metaphysical studies are this side of frivolous. However, Ms. Dillard has a great deal going for her — in spite of some repetition of words and concepts, her prose is bright, fresh and occasionally emulates (not imitates) the Walden Master in a contemporary context: "Trees. . . extend impressively in both directions, . . . shearing rock and fanning air, doing their real business just out of reach." She has set herself no less a task than understanding emotionally, spiritually and intellectually the force of the creative extravagance of the universe in all its beauty and horhor ("There is a terrible innocence in the benumbed world of the lower animals, reducing life to a universal chomp.") Experience can be focused, and awareness sharpened, by a kind of meditative high. Thus this becomes somewhat exhausting reading, if taken in toto, but even if Dillard's reach exceeds her grasp, her sights are leagues higher than that of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea, regretfully (re her sex), the inevitable comparison.

Pub Date: March 13, 1974

ISBN: 0061233323

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper's Magazine Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1974


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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